Tories backtrack on extra university places for rich

Submitted by AWL on 10 May, 2011 - 1:59

Having floated the idea of universities creating a separate admissions system for those who pay above the £9,000 cap on tuition fees, the government has quickly backtracked.

Universities minister David Willetts had suggested that institutions could recruit more British students by offering extra places to those who pay full-cost fees of up to £28,000. He claimed that the extra income would free up more places for students for poor backgrounds.

In Australia, those who pay their tuition fees upfront are offered a lower grade for entrance to university than those who have to take a loan to pay them. That is evidently the direction the Tories wanted - want - to move in.

But within 24 hours, stung by the obvious charge that, at a time when it is cutting 10,000 university places, the government was talking about a special, much shorter queue for the children of the rich, Willetts has retreated. Coalition spokespeople now say that only companies and charities will be able to access extra, higher fee places, not individuals.

This is still highly objectionable. Beyond the fact that, for many rich kids, it will simply mean that daddy's company pays for a short cut to uni, it is part of the government's drive to encourage corporate sponsorship of university places. The accountancy corporation KPMG has just unveiled a plan to pay fees for a set of accounting students at universities including Durham.

In any case, the idea that any of this will help most students is the same logic which says that private schools, private healthcare, voluntary sector provision of public services and so on will free up public services for the rest of us. In fact they are moves to trash public services.

We need to rearm the student and workers' movements to fight all fees, and for decent public funding for universities. Killing off Willetts' outrageous plans is a necessary start to that fightback.

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Submitted by AWL on Tue, 10/05/2011 - 14:08

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